In all these ways, the blaxploitation era created opportunities for Black artists and technicians that remained
largely closed to them on television, but the films ignited a two-front war. From the outside, they faced
condemnation from civil rights groups, who understandably accused them of projecting a distorted and demeaning
view of Black life. Black protesters picketed showings of films such as Super Fly, waving signs that insisted
"We Are Not All Pimps and Whores!" The movies defenders countered that the films also constituted a form of Black
empowerment. The typical blaxploitation plot showed a confident, dynamic African American star ([Richard] Roundtree's Shaft
or Pam Grier's Coffy and Foxy Brown) conquering a complex and dangerous urban landscape while attracting Black and
white lovers alike. To the extent that white society touched Black life at all, it was in the form of corrupt
cops and politicians and sadistic mobsters, who make the big money while dribbling crumbs to the Black pimps and
drug dealers. When Pam Grier's heroic nurse, Coffy, outwits and kills a bigoted white drug kingpin, after first
dispatching the corrupt white cops on his payroll, she portrays a form of black empowerment and retribution
in the face of racism that Hollywood had rarely shown on-screen. Still, the case for blaxploitation films like
Coffy as a form of social subversion was diminished by the fact that Grier also spent much of the movie
with her top off and a good deal of her time tearing the tops from other prostitutes working for a "Super Fly"-like
Black pimp and pusher who struts through the movie in a gold jumpsuit (until he's brutally murdered by the white
Hm. Intriguing! And this is 2023 after all. I went to the trusty
Roku and found Coffy offered on a number of streaming services, notably the free-with-ads Pluto.
(Which turned out to be free with the same three ads over and over again, but what are you
going to do?)
One correction to Brownstein's synopsis: Grier's character does not spend a "good deal of her time tearing the tops from other prostitutes". "Other" implies that Coffy's a prostitute too; she's not, she's posing as a prostitute to infiltrate the
pimp-pusher's organization. And that top-tearing thing is just one (epic) fight scene where Coffy runs afoul of the
actual hookers and needs to defend herself. And those tops are pretty flimsy anyway.
All in all, a very guilty pleasure. An intricate plot, lots of imaginative violent action. But also mediocre acting (sorry, Pam!).
And a painfully awful soundtrack. (Opinions on that
differ, but I'm right.)
Question about that first scene: where was she hiding that shotgun?
Observation about that final scene: she wasn't going to shoot that guy until it turned out he was
cheating on her with a white girl.
And, yes, the Brownstein book capitalizes "Black" and keeps "white" lowercase, all the way through.
That follows the AP recommendation, see their lame justification
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